Monday, September 25, 2023

Speak Up!

By Fred Schafer

Most meeting planners understand that marketing, sales, networking and a belief in the value of their service are essential to success. However, most meeting planners also admit they do not enjoy, and often avoid, public speaking.

Arguably, there are fewer effective ways to market and demonstrate your credibility than public speaking. The bottom line is professionals can raise their status and income faster through speaking than perhaps any other method. Once the skills are in place, speaking can become one of the most enjoyable and profitable aspects of your work.

Here are 10 tips you can use to profit from speaking:

  1. Use your passion as fuel for your speaking. If you are not excited enough about what you have to offer, you will not be interesting.



  2. Start writing your speech today. The key to confidence in anything is knowing you are prepared. Imagine you are asked to speak one month from today for 30 minutes at an important association meeting. What will you say? A possible starting title could be based on “What You Need to Know”- for example, “What you need to know about negotiating a contract with a hotel.”


  3. Structure the outline first. Start with a hook, a brief introduction of yourself, your premise, your purpose and a short story illustrating the challenges and solutions. Reinforce why audience members need the solution, tell them how to get it, invite them to take action and enthusiastically predict the favorable outcome.


  4. Write it out word-for-word at first. Your introduction and closing are especially important. As you continue to write/rehearse, you can cut sentences down to three words. Eventually you can replace those three words with pictures. This method was practiced by Mark Twain, who was better known during his lifetime for his great public speaking than for his writing.


  5. Rehearse the entire speech out loud at least three times. If your ideal audience is a business association you hope will hire you, start out practicing for anyone who will halfway listen (Your spouse? Your book club?). Do not rehearse in front of a mirror. Using a mirror makes you more “you”- focused. The biggest mistake speakers make is not rehearsing their entire talk in private. Rehearsing privately helps you relax publicly.


  6. Develop your life stories. Original and personal tales from your life are the best tool you have to connect with others and bring energy, emotion and humor to your speeches. Work on two to three anecdotes from your life that were turning points. Be sure there is something funny in them. Remember, “No funny, no money!”


  7. Make it about them. Include more “you’s” and reduce the “I’s” in your talk. You are talking to a room of individuals who need what you have. Your job is to bring them valuable information and encouragement. If you do that, you have succeeded.


  8. Study speaking. Speaking is ultimately selling. If you are not out speaking, you are being outsold by others. Read the top 10 books you can find on speaking over the next 12 months. What you learn and put into practice can increase your income by 10 percent in the next year.


  9. Do not expose your fear and nervousness. Never start off your speech telling the audience how nervous you are. That puts the focus on you and makes the audience stressed.


  10. Accept that you may be a disaster sometimes. I have bombed more times than I want to admit. It happens to everyone. Every master was once a disaster. Just keep at it-you will get better!


– Fred Schafer

Fred Schafer has given keynote speeches on high performance leadership, business breakthroughs, superior safety and health and wellness at hundreds of conferences from Alaska to Florida. The author of two books, he lives in Redding, Calif.